Mumbai: The 'Maharashtra Bhushan' award event in Navi Mumbai on Sunday turned tragic with the death of at least 7-8 people apparently due to sunstroke as the function, attended by lakhs, was held in an open ground.
At least 24 people are undergoing treatment at a hospital in Navi Mumbai, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said.
Earlier in the day, Union home minister Amit Shah conferred the award on Appasaheb Dharmadhikari at the ceremony held in Kharghar area in Raigad district neighbouring Mumbai.
Shinde told reporters outside a hospital in Navi Mumbai on Sunday night that at least 7-8 people have died while at least 24 others are hospitalised.
"As per the briefing received from doctors, 7-8 people died today, while some 24 are being treated. This is a case of sunstroke."
"Very unfortunate," says Shinde
"Some 50 people were admitted to a Navi Mumbai-based hospital of which 24 are still admitted while the rest have been discharged after primary treatment," he said, and termed the deaths "very unfortunate".
The nearest weather station to the spot of the event recorded a maximum temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.
Shinde said the kin of the deceased will be given a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
"Medical treatment of the people under treatment due to sunstroke will be free. The state will pay from its coffers for their treatment," he said.
Lakhs of people had come for the event.
CM asks to shift patients to specialised hospital
The Chief Minister also directed officials to shift patients to specialised hospitals if they needed additional treatment.
Replying to a question, Shinde said he would not comment on political allegations of the Opposition and his priority is to ensure that the affected people get proper treatment.
He said a Deputy Municipal Commissioner-rank official of the Panvel Municipal Corporation has been deputed to coordinate with relatives of patients and medical teams and to give timely updates.
"Lakhs of people had come for the event and it went well. It is painful to see some of them suffer. It is a very unfortunate situation which is very painful for me," he said.
Who is Dharmadhikari?
Dharmadhikari has a massive following in the state due to his tree plantation drives, blood donation and medical camps as well as de-addiction work in tribal areas.
The 306-acre ground, where the function was held, was packed with people and equipped with audio/video facilities for followers of Shree Sadasya (Dharmadhikari's organisation) to witness the function.
Amit Shah conferred the award to Dharmadhikari and presented him a shawl, a citation and memento and a cheque of Rs 25 lakh, besides a 10-feet garland of roses.
The Maharashtra Bhushan Award is given to personalities working in the fields of literature, sports, science, social work, journalism, public administration and health services.
Chief Minister Shinde, his deputy Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Kapil Patil among MLAs, MLCs, and ministers were present on the occasion.
(With inputs from PTI)